Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #72

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1965

Cover Artists: Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta

“A Prince There Was!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Gene Colan

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Gene Colan (credited as Adam Austin)

Inker: Vince Colletta

“Within This Monster Dwells a Man!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Pencillers: Jack Kirby (layouts), Mike Esposito

Inker: Mike Esposito (credited as Mikey Demeo)

What’s Going On?

Namor continues his quest for Neptune’s Trident in the most dangerous spots in the ocean. Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Lady Dorma faces the consequences for helping Namor escape.

In the Hulk story, the Hulk manages to escape the Army, but now has to deal with the diabolical Leader!

Details:

In the Sub-Mariner feature:

  • Picking up from last issue, Namor has reached the spot where the second clue to Neptune’s Trident is hidden, but it is protected by the powerful Seaweed Man.
  • Namor swims around the Seaweed Man fast enough to create a vortex that sweeps the enemy away. This also reveals where the second clue is.

  • Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, the usurper Krang tries one last time to convince Lady Dorma to be his queen. She rejects him.

  • Krang imprisons her in a plastic bubble and commands that she be banished to the land of the Faceless Ones.

  • Elsewhere, Namor continues on his quest and approaches the third challenge: the Diamonds of Doom! As he approaches the Diamonds, Namor soon realizes the threat they pose —- they are absorbing his strength! How will he continue if he is too weak to move?

  • To be continued…!

In the Hulk back-up feature:

  • Last issue, the Army was preparing to bomb Banner’s secret lab to kill the Hulk. Just before the attack, a hologram of the Leader appeared and offered to save the Green Goliath.
  • The Hulk initially refuses the aid of the Leader.

  • However, when the Army’s bombardment damaged Banner’s equipment, the Hulk changes his mind. He needs working scientific equipment to keep him from changing back into Bruce Banner (who still has a bullet in his head), and he hopes to secretly use some of the Leader’s stuff.

  • The Leader then teleports the Hulk to his secret base in Italy.

  • The Leader wasn’t foolish enough to allow the Hulk into his secret lair without taking precautions, though. The Hulk was exposed to a sleeping gas to subdue him. It also has the unintended effect of triggering the Hulk’s transformation back into Bruce Banner!

  • The Hulk searches desperately for the materials and machines he would need to avoid the transformation, but he finds nothing useful. As such, he decides to wreck the Leader’s lab because why not?

  • The Leader, naturally, sends his Humanoids to stop the Hulk. While the weakened hHulk struggles to fight back, he also tries something as a last resort: he will try to deny the transformation back into Banner by sheer force of will! Will it work?

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

No, this isn’t particularly good. The Namor feature has a pretty bland story with decent artwork. The appeal of Namor at this time is that he is noble, but not necessarily a hero. This storyline is casting him as a traditional good guy, and it’s failing to take advantage of his charm.

The Hulk story is worse. The Leader is used as a narrative crutch to get the Hulk out of an interesting situation, seemingly squandering several issues of build-up. This feature has been going for over a year (!) at a breakneck pace, and this is yet another sharp swerve in a new direction. I don’t know if this will ever get around to a satisfying conclusion. The plot doesn’t make a ton of sense, either. They go to great lengths to show how smart the Leader is, only to have him act like an idiot and not restrain the Hulk when he had a chance.

Mike Esposito’s pencils pale in comparison to the most recent Hulk pencillers (Ditko and Kirby), and forcing him to use Kirby’s layouts and poses just emphasizes that difference. Overall, this continues to be a very weak title.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Zantor, who (somehow) serves the Faceless Ones while still living near Atlantis.
  • This is technically the first appearance of the Faceless Ones, though they are covered in shadow. We don’t know much about them, except that they live far below Atlantis.

  • Apparently, Namor can read the minds of fish. I think he’s done something similar before with highly specialized fish, but not with just whatever fish happens to be passing by at the moment.

  • General Ross and Major Talbot are finally getting closer to the truth about the Hulk and Bruce Banner. They’re not quite correct, but this is the closest they’ve been.

  • The Leader can effectively teleport anyone in the world to anywhere else, without the traveler needing special equipment.

  • The Leader does not yet realize that the Hulk is intelligent right now, but he is aware that the Hulk appears smarter than he used to be.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Namor, who has threatened and attacked the surface world on multiple occasions, needs to regain his throne to…protect the surface world?

  • Did Neptune pre-record a message on a fish? How long has it been holding that diamond in its mouth?

  • While technically sound from a grammatical standpoint, Warlord Krang saying “pleasanter” is what makes him a true villain in my eyes.

  • Since when does Namor care about Lady Dorma? He blew her off only a few issues ago for her long history of being terrible.

  • Why doesn’t Namor get the grief that Aquaman does for talking to fish? (The correct answer is “Because Namor wasn’t a Superfriend,” but my sentiment still stands).
  • When even Stan Lee gives up on faking the science in a comic, you know it has even less basis in fact than usual.

  • Why does the Leader need amphibious Humanoids? His regular models can function underwater. We saw it back in Tales to Astonish #64.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s